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Lee Daniels to direct ‘Push’

Sapphire adaptation to star Kravitz, Mo'nique

Lee Daniels will direct “Push,” an independently financed adaptation of the bestselling novel by Sapphire (Ramona Lofton). Rocker Lenny Kravitz will make his feature-starring debut alongside Mo’nique, Paula Patton and newcomer Gabourey “Gabbie” Sidibe.

Geoffrey Fletcher-scripted pic is a co-production of Lee Daniels Entertainment and Smokewood Entertainment Group, with the latter financing. Production is just getting under way in New York.

Story concerns Clareece “Precious” Jones, an overweight, illiterate African-American teen in Harlem. Just as she’s about to give birth to her second child, Jones is accepted into an alternative school where a teacher (Patton) helps her find an alternative path in her life. Mo’nique plays the girl’s mother and Kravitz plays a nurse who shows kindness to Jones.

Sidibe won the role of Precious after 300 young girls auditioned in casting calls around the country.

“Push” is “as important to me as ‘Roots,’ and I’m honored that Sapphire entrusted me with her book,” said Daniels, who after producing films like “Monster’s Ball” and “The Woodsman,” made his directing debut on the Helen Mirren-Cuba Gooding Jr. starrer “Shadowboxer.”

As producer, Daniels recently wrapped the Mariah Carey starrer “Tennessee,” directed by Aaron Woodley and financed by Smokewood Entertainment Group.

“Push” is being exec produced by Gary Magness, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Lisa Cortes and Tom Heller.

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